Chartered coaches for pilgrims

The Sangamitra Express will be the first in South Western Railway (SWR) Division to introduce this venture from the City station to Mughal Sarai, located 16 kms from Varanasi.

In all, 288 pilgrims will undertake the journey in two batches on March 18 and 19. The group is affiliated with the Adichunchanagari Mahasamsthana Mutt, based in Mandya district. The members are heading to Varanasi to take part in a function to inaugurate the mutt’s branch in the holy city.

Four coaches (sleeper Class) will be attached to the train, two on each day. This will be an integrated package tour organised by Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) and includes the return trip, road transport to the destination, accommodation and food for the pilgrims.

IRCTC had earlier allotted exclusive coaches for school children and corporate employees but it will be the first time that coaches dedicated to pilgrims were being introduced, said the Chief Regional Manager, SWR Division, IRCTC, S Gagarin. Enthused by the demand, IRCTC now plans to earmark atleast 50 such coaches in the next financial year.

Ramachandra of the Mahasamsthana mutt, who is overseeing the arrangements said, “Devotees from all over Karnataka will board the train at the City station. We planned to book an entire train to transport over 1,000 devotees and approached the Hubli Railway Divisional Office. They suggested this option and we feel it is a better deal,” he said. This package would ensure that all the requirements of a sizeable number of devotees would be entirely taken care of, Ramachandra added.

The devotees will return to the City on March 23 and 25 from Mughal Sarai. The cost for the entire batch works out to Rs 7 lakhs.

“Chartered coaches will be charged as per full tariff tate specifications, issued by the Railway Ministry,” said Deputy General Manager, B S Kiran. This means there would not be any concessions for any category of passenger, including senior citizens and children.

http://www.deccanherald.com/Content/Mar182009/city20090318124717.asp

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